The tenth round of the FIA WTCC 2014 season took place at the Salzburgring in Austria this past weekend. Citroen is still the team to beat after ending this round with a win from Argentinian driver José María López. However, their 1-2 finishing streak was ended yesterday by a trio of three Hondas that finished behind Lopez. Yvan Muller had started in pole during race 1 and went on to win it from start to finish.
The race of Austria was welcomed by good weather under the sun, as opposed to the previous round where rainy conditions led to the termination of one race. Lopez and Loeb failed to taste victory during race one after facing stiff competition from Tom Coronel in his ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML. Coronel finished in second while Lopez took third, after missing the braking point at the Chicane and only to rejoin the race behind Coronel. Loeb took the fourth place.
Race two had four Honda’s in the first two rows, this made it hard for Citroen drivers to claim their 1-2 finishes as in the previous rounds. Lopez would go ahead to win the race, his luck was facilitated by the two safety-car periods. The first period was brought by a crash between Citroen driver and race one winner Muller and the LADA cars of Huff and Thompson. A few minutes later there was another crash that caused the race to be red-flagged.
After the restart, Lopez edged out three Hondas and settled in second with only one Honda in the lead. Another safety car was deployed to clear the debris and Lopez used this chance to pass the final Honda, he stayed in the lead till the checkered flag. Behind him was the Honda trio of Tarquini, Monteiro and Michelisz. The Chevrolet cars of Coronel and Morbidelli finished in fifth and sixth before the second Citroen of Loeb settled in seventh.
The next round will be held at the Moscow Raceway on June 7, the second time WTCC will take place in Russia’s first modern permanent racetrack.
José María López:
It’s nice and a little bit unexpected to take my third win of the year here, as I was probably not the best of the three Citroën cars, but things turned out this way and now I am leading the championship with 41 points. It doesn’t mean much, as we saw today, things can change very quickly. I never imagined to be in this position, but the championship is still very very long. In Race 2 I opted for a non-aggressive set-up with a very low wing and that paid off as I was very quick on the back straight, which was crucial to pass the Honda cars. For sure, the second safety-car helped, but sometimes you have to be lucky
Inheriting the pole position after qualifying was certainly useful. My start wasn’t perfect, but certainly better than in Slovakia. In the first laps, I mostly focused on bringing up gently the tyre pressure, as I knew this was going to be crucial. Then, I could push and build some advantage. López came back on me very close, but then he made a mistake, so I could breath again.